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Find Your Match: Using a Matching Campaign to Maximize Giving

It’s nearly the end of the year, a time when thankfulness and a spirit of giving are in abundance.  Every day in our mailboxes and our email inboxes we as church leaders, and as members of the general population, are almost inundated by appeals from worthy causes for meaningful year-end contributions. A few of those appeals may come with the promise of a “matching campaign.”  They will match our gifts dollar for dollar!  They will use our donation as a springboard to greater fundraising heights.  But just what is a matching campaign, and how can we as churches and/or as individual donors learn to maximize such an opportunity?

A matching grant is a method fundraisers that organizations use to craft an attractive appeal for donations. The fundraiser secures a donor who promises to give in tandem if others give first.  The most popular matching ratio is a 1:1 match where the matching donor will give $1 for every $1 given by other donors.  This is a strategic way of helping donors double their gift without doing additional prospecting or fundraising.  Also popular are 2:1 matches (for every $1 given, the matching donor gives $2) and, in reverse, the 1:2 match (for every $2 given, the matching donor gives $1). For sure, a matching challenge can be a win-win situation.  The donor experiences leveraging their gift to see others also get involved, and the recipient organization gets twice the income towards their project or initiative.

Matching “campaigns”, as they are usually called, are generally time-bound and are extremely popular for end-of-the-year fundraising efforts.  Matches are usually capped at a certain dollar figure, giving an excellent goal for fundraisers to present to their constituents and donor prospects.  Occasionally, if fundraisers exceed the matching goal, donors of means will be able to match funds beyond the originally set financial cap.  This is a great blessing when it happens.

Matching campaigns can be used to propel churches or non-profits “over the hump” in a large capital fundraising project (i.e., building construction, mission project, overseas infrastructure improvement).  Donors are encouraged that the gift they give will be matched, while the timeline for project completion may become significantly shorter thanks to solid financial backing.  Donors feel as if they are truly stewarding God’s monies well when the funds and project timeline come together in a way that make good business sense, as well as good ministry sense.

You as a church can become involved in matching campaigns in two ways.  First, as a donor your church can give to projects as part of a match.  Sometimes Christian or other charitable foundations will invest a large sum to be matched, and your congregation can play an important part. Churches can help reach the matching goal with their generous giving.  Second, you as a church can be the “match-er”!  As a part of your missions or general budget, churches can allocate a large sum as a matching donation that will encourage other donors, whether from your congregation or from the community, to give toward a special project or initiative.

All in all, participating in matching campaigns is a great way to raise funds and make a bigger impact for God’s Kingdom.

Below are some helpful links to articles that will help you in your own matching campaigns or when evaluating your church’s giving to worthy causes at home and overseas.


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